Ryanair check-in desks at Malaga Airport. / MIGUE FERNÁNDEZ

Costa del Sol hoteliers have revised down their forecasts due to airport chaos

Strikes and staff shortages at airlines and major hubs are combining to make flying difficult this summer and affecting bookings

Pilar Martínez
PILAR MARTÍNEZ

A slowdown in foreign tourist bookings and cancellations has affected occupancy forecasts for hotels on the Costa del Sol.

The Hoteliers' Association of the Costa del Sol (Aehcos), in its latest report, has revised downwards the expected numbers of international travellers – to a 60 per cent occupancy rate, a fall of ten per cent.

However, Aehcos said the drop will be offset by a growth in domestic demand.

Complications at the border

The association blames the Ryanair and easyJet strikes and also the chaos at European airports for the decline.

"In just a fortnight, more than two thousand flights have been cancelled at European airports, to which we have to add the delays suffered by passengers," it said.

"Tourists from the United Kingdom are also encountering some difficulties at the borders following their exit from the European Union," added the executive committee of Aehcos.

On Tuesday this week, as on Monday and last Friday, the Scandinavian flag carrier SAS, a company based in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, cancelled its flights between Malaga and Copenhagen and Stockholm due to the strike that its pilots have been on since 4 July and which has led to the cancellation of 2,550 flights, affecting more than 270,000 passengers.

Meanwhile, last Friday, the UK carrier British Airways cancelled the connection between the Costa del Sol and London Heathrow airport, the main hub of routes between the United Kingdom and the rest of the world, as the airport operator has taken the unprecedented decision to limit its capacity to 100,000 passengers a day until 11 September.

Heathrow causes controversy

In addition, Heathrow has asked airlines not to sell any more summer tickets to avoid delays, queues or last-minute cancellations. The airport's decision has sparked controversy.

Emirates airline said it was: "a blatant disregard for consumers, forcing them to deny seats to tens of thousands of travellers who have paid and booked months in advance," it said in a statement.